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Music Managers

Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Audio Apps
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These music management applications are capable of playing music from different sources, organizing large collections, and some even have extra features through plug-ins. They are much more than simple audio players, but lack or fail at iPod support out-of-the-box. Essentially, these applications are like modern version of WinAmp, minus the sweet visualizations.

Guayadeque (v. 0.2.7-1227)

Guayadeque is a well-rounded music management application with all of the organizational and playback capabilities needed for large and diverse libraries. For organization Guayadeque supports tags, labels, and star ratings. Album cover and lyrics fetching is included as well. Automatic silence detection, resume from the last closed session, and smart playlists make Guayadeque very intuitive. Beyond the usual local audio files, Guayadeque can play Last.fm, Libre.fm, SHOUTcast radio, and podcast subscriptions.

The user interface is highly configurable with 28 optional view settings, not including full-screen. Fortunately, with all of these options, Guayadeque allows you to save and load multiple custom UI layouts. The default configuration is essentially split in half. Right below the menu bar, on the left-hand pane lies the play controls and playlist. The right-hand pane is tabbed at the top to switch between library, radio, Last.fm, lyrics, playlists, podcasts, browser, and file tree functions.

Guayadeque is a relatively new app to keep an eye on, though it has a pretty nice feature set already.



Listen (v. 0.6.2)

Listen is a music management application for the GNOME desktop. Along with audio files like MP3s, Listen handles Last.fm and SHOUTcast Internet radio, as well as audio podcasts. Listen also fetches album art, lyrics, and Wikipedia information about the artist. Basically, all of the features that other GTK music managers have. While our test iPod was detected by Listen, it was only in file browser view--no easy sync, unfortunately.



aTunes (v. 2.0.0)

aTunes provides a ridiculous amount of information and number of ways to sort through your music. There is even a statistics tracker that can show you (in graph form, no less) what you've been listening to.

Negatives include a splash screen, and the fact that system theme and window decorations do not apply to this application.

Panes divide the UI into sections and the view menu can disable most of them. aTunes makes use of tabs to switch between functions like radio, podcasts, library, favorites, and devices. Unfortunately, our test iPod Nano was not detected by aTunes in the device tab.



Exaile (v. 0.3.0.1)

Exaile is yet another iTunes clone for GNOME. The feature set is standard fare, including album art/lyrics fetching and Internet radio (like SHOUTcast and Last.fm).

The UI is clean and efficient, employing vertical tabs along the left-hand side of the screen for switching between functions. Tabs are also used above the main area, allowing for multiple playlists. This application has a lot of sorting options, with a possible 16 sortable information columns. Other than a needless splash screen, Exaile is pretty much the same as other GTK music managers, though our test iPod was not detected by this application's device manager.



Foobnix (v. 0.2.3-1)

Foobnix is a Russian-developed music management application. And while the Web site is in Russian, this app is worth the Google translation. Besides local files, Foobnix can utilize online radio stations. Although most of the included presets are Russian, Last.fm is supported.

Foobnix is very fast and responsive, even when adding media to your library for the first time. Hovering on the notification area icon previews the album cover of the currently-playing song, which is automatically fetched. Right-clicking the icon brings up a play control pop-up window that disappears when the cursor leaves its borders.

The minimalist user interface is about as efficient as it gets; one could easily mistake Foobnix for a player, not a full-fledged manager. There is no menu bar. Instead, the main toolbar and buttons throughout the window house every function. The toolbar contains basic play controls, volume, and an adjustable progress bar. The left-hand pane houses the music library, collapsible by artist and album. Playlists and media from different sources appear in tabs on the right-hand pane, and each is saved for the next time the player is opened. You can even perform searches for content across various online sources, including streaming video!

Foobnix is a great music manager, perfect for older or mobile systems. We were really surprised by the quality and capabilities of this app. It a shame that it mostly flies under the radar.



Jajuk (v. 1.7.1)

Jajuk has all the sorting options that aTunes has and more. The creators of Jajuk really figured out almost every conceivable way to sort through, play, and tag your music. You can create bookmarks, mark as a favorite or as a novelty, sort by genre, artist, album, song, similar artist--there's simply too much to fit in a paragraph.

Jajuk comes with a ton of Web-based radio stations already set up, and it can also search for Wikipedia information, not only on the artist like most others, but also by the album or track. Then there are the statistics. Jajuk displays graphs showing what you've listened to by genre, as well as visually displaying how your collection has grown over time. This heavy-duty music manager is capable of taming music libraries of any size. iPod support, on the other hand, is handled as a file browser. So, there's no sync.



There are also downsides to Jajuk. Like aTunes, Jajuk uses foreign UI conventions, making this application stick out like a sore thumb no matter what desktop environment you are in. Jajuk also has an always-useless splash screen. Jajuk does install another application as well. Now, it's entirely usual for a Linux application to require support packages, such as shared libraries or frameworks, but to install another end-user application is not. Jajuk comes with Entagged, a file-tagging application.

If the developers would make a native Qt or GTK+ version, lose the splash screen, fix iPod sync, and drop the automatic inclusion or integrate the functions of Entagged, it could be the ultimate music manager.




gmusicbrowser (v. 1.0.2)

gmusicbrowser is a music management application designed for very large music libraries. For organization, this app sports user-defined star ratings and labels. These can be filtered, sorted, and searched just like album, artist, genre, and song name. An available Last.fm plug-in provides access to streaming content.

The gmusicbrowser user interface is highly customizable. This application has 19 different UI view modes! From a simple media player like VLC to a full-screen iTunes-like layout, gmusicbrowser should please anyone. A notification area icon provides quick access to essential playback controls and basic file menu items.

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  • 0 Hide
    nevertell , February 17, 2011 8:12 AM
    Great stuff, I'll try out some of those.

    Although I had tried Banshee a few years ago, and it just couldn't deal with 30 gb of music.
  • 0 Hide
    machvelocy , February 17, 2011 10:11 AM
    D'oh.... i didn't know before if you can sync ipod in linux (yes i'm a linux n00b).
  • -1 Hide
    pelov , February 17, 2011 10:50 AM
    Linux has always been quite robust in the audio segment, particularly if you consider that the majority of apps are completely free and hog less resources. Move over apple.

    Though some apps are .deb or .rpm, or what have you, depending on the linux distro you can still open/install them just fine.

    Good writeup :) 
  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , February 17, 2011 11:57 AM
    I miss xmms in the list, just for nostalgia.

    Audacious fits my bill for a music player. Simple yet capable.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , February 17, 2011 12:37 PM
    does Audacious take winamp 2 skins like xmms does?
  • 0 Hide
    admiral_grinder , February 17, 2011 12:59 PM
    I have tried several of the Winamp clones on my Ubuntu box, but I'm using Audacious to be the better. Out of all the clones I have found the playlist sorting options are a bit weak. While you can sort by Artist or by Title, you can't do both. They do have the important one of sorting by path and filename though so you can que up albums in the right order.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2011 1:05 PM
    Nice review! I look forward to looking at how gaming works on linux
  • 0 Hide
    castlefox , February 17, 2011 2:39 PM
    Thank you Toms for doing a linux article !!!!!

    I didnt know those ipod syncing programs actually worked. I cant wait to try out Banchee in Ubuntu 11.04

    PS> Type O Negative and all the other metal put a smile on my face :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Crazy Hitchhiker , February 17, 2011 2:59 PM
    Nice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!
  • 0 Hide
    castlefox , February 17, 2011 3:10 PM
    Crazy HitchhikerNice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!


    VLC is more of a video thing.... it does stand for "video lan client"
  • -1 Hide
    Dave_69 , February 17, 2011 3:38 PM
    So now Tom's has fallen into the trap of confusing an "application" from a "program." Nice...
  • 0 Hide
    gmgj , February 17, 2011 3:51 PM
    Of interest to some of us would be LIRC and other remote control - smart phone capabilites. I am a windows Media Monkey fan. I exercise to music and watch milkdrop visualizations. I installed projectM, a milkdrop replacment last week and it has been working great.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 17, 2011 4:05 PM
    castlefoxVLC is more of a video thing.... it does stand for "video lan client"
    It's changed over the years so the abbreviation doesn't really fit anymore. It can transcode and serve streams.
  • 0 Hide
    hangfirew8 , February 17, 2011 4:20 PM
    Good timing for this article. I'm tired of my Gentoo/KDE latest-and-greatest Amarok crashing 50% of the time when connecting to Internet Radio. As soon as I'm done transitioning boot to SSD, I'll be checking out Banshee et al.
  • 0 Hide
    Phu5ion , February 17, 2011 4:22 PM
    I've been using Pithos for my Pandora listening pleasure and it works pretty well. The only problem I've had with it is that if you pause and then restart the station you will lose your stream. This probably has more to do with Pithos closing the connection to Pandora's stream than anything else, but it is frustrating when you have to pause a great song.
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , February 17, 2011 8:45 PM
    Really sorry for the late responses everyone, didn't know this published today, doh!
    nukemasterdoes Audacious take winamp 2 skins like xmms does?

    Sure does, version 2.x WinAmp skins supported.
    castlefoxThank you Toms for doing a linux article !!!!!I didnt know those ipod syncing programs actually worked. I cant wait to try out Banchee in Ubuntu 11.04PS> Type O Negative and all the other metal put a smile on my face

    The older and simpler iPods should not give you any issues, can't speak for the iPhone or iPod Touch though. LOL, I tried to break it up a bit with classic rock, but my collection is overwhelmingly metal ;) 
    Crazy HitchhikerNice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!

    Audacity is in the next segment: Audio Production. VLC and WinFF are in the one after that: Video Apps ;) 
    Dave_69So now Tom's has fallen into the trap of confusing an "application" from a "program." Nice...

    We used app/application/software/program interchangeably, otherwise we'd have the word 'application' about 3,000 times in this series.
    gmgjOf interest to some of us would be LIRC and other remote control - smart phone capabilites. I am a windows Media Monkey fan. I exercise to music and watch milkdrop visualizations. I installed projectM, a milkdrop replacment last week and it has been working great.

    Smartphones software will not be in the Roundup, maybe sometime down the road. LIRC will not be covered here either, possibly in the final segment of the Roundup, but I can't promise anything because I have not fooled around with that yet (due to Netflix streaming and Blu-Ray, my HTPC is, unfortunately, running Windows). Is projectM really close to MilkDrop now? I tried it about 2 years ago and it didn't compare. God I miss MilkDrop, hell, I miss WinAmp. Nullsoft: MAKE A LinAmp!
    HangFireW8Good timing for this article. I'm tired of my Gentoo/KDE latest-and-greatest Amarok crashing 50% of the time when connecting to Internet Radio. As soon as I'm done transitioning boot to SSD, I'll be checking out Banshee et al.

    Have you given Arch or Chakra a spin yet (I'm pretty heavily in the weeds right now and haven't gotten around to it yet)? Let me know how the SSD works out - another thing I have yet to tinker with :( 
    Phu5ionI've been using Pithos for my Pandora listening pleasure and it works pretty well. The only problem I've had with it is that if you pause and then restart the station you will lose your stream. This probably has more to do with Pithos closing the connection to Pandora's stream than anything else, but it is frustrating when you have to pause a great song.

    Although I missed that app, Pithos does not qualify for the Roundup due to it not being in the default repos, nor offering a DEB/RPM installer.
  • 0 Hide
    mayne92 , February 18, 2011 1:45 AM
    Nice Linux roundup! I love reading your Linux articles Adam.
  • 0 Hide
    bit_user , February 18, 2011 1:46 AM
    Hey, great article! I usually just stick to what I know, so articles like this help expose me to new progs.

    I just wanted to put in a plug for GStreamer. It's kind of like DirectShow in that you construct a processing graph with nodes that are data sources, sinks, and some number of filters. It's pretty technical, but it's by far the most powerful tool out there for converting, decoding, or streaming just about anything. There are some GUI front-ends, or you can just use gst-launch to build graphs from the commandline.
  • 0 Hide
    Dave_69 , February 18, 2011 5:04 AM
    Quote:
    We used app/application/software/program interchangeably, otherwise we'd have the word 'application' about 3,000 times in this series.


    Oh, okay. Well, technically they're programs.
  • 0 Hide
    compton , February 18, 2011 5:34 AM
    One aspect of music playback is supp)ort for ASIO and WASAPI. While I have a couple of options for Windows (Foobar, J.River), I'm not sure what my options are for Linux. Any thoughts?
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